For my capstone, I am exploring interaction design in public spaces as the current theme, specifically in public interactive installations.

In the process of doing a literature review I came across a paper by Claude Fortin, Kate Hennessy, Ruedi Baur, and Pierre Fortin titled “Beyond the Vision Paradigm: Design Strategies for Crossmodal Interaction with Dynamic Digital Displays “. This particular paper aims to develop new interaction paradigms for dynamic digital displays in public spaces. One idea that really resonated with me is that interactive public displays have the potential of becoming architectural elements.

“When we think of DDDs [Dynamic Digital Displays] in public space, we generally think of displays contained within a framing device placed perpendicular to the ground. These screens can be horizontal, vertical, rigid, flexible, as standalones or multiples disposed in formations. More recently, a number of prototypes have proposed DDDs embedded in furniture such as park benches or horizontal tabletops [7]; others projected onto the ground [15][20] and thanks to flexible display technology [11], we are seeing DDDs used in more organic forms as in Figure 3. This evolution seems promising in bringing them beyond the vision paradigm because it allows us to experience them as architectural elements instead of flat screens.

Throughout the paper there has been mention of the idea that displacing sensory awareness from visual to haptic changes (or may change) the way we experience public art. I personally like this point of interactivity and flexibility, or even dynamism as a medium specific characteristic, that could enhance people’s experiences and perceptions of public spaces. If such an installation becomes embedded in the environment, and is no longer perceives as “a display”, or “a screen”, but a characteristic of the particular urban space. I can see this connected to an earlier paradigm mentioned in the same paper: the aesthetic interaction paradigm. That is:

[T]he aesthetic interaction paradigm is premised on the idea that users give meaning to technological artifacts based on their experience of it [16]. Accordingly, this approach recognizes that new forms of interaction can emerge in use. It thus supports the study of appropriation practices. Aesthetic interaction also assumes that “the human body, intellect and all the senses are used in relation to interactive systems”.

So the flexibility of the medium seems to be essential in being able to take an urban space or public space, and make it a meaningful experience. So what would be the difference in seeing for example this luminous pathway vs being in the high line in new york ? Both spaces have obviously been designed for a particular purpose. Both are highly transited urban spaces. So what does the interactivity add? Perhaps it is not fair to do such a comparison since the two locations are quite different. Site specificity and the objective of the space/interactions within that space serve different purposes…

[I am trying to improve my thinking and knowledge on aesthetics, urban spaces, and similar topics, so if the above sounds like it was written by a caveman, it is because I am still a caveman in my knowledge of this.]